How to budget as a couple
13 May 2019
When you were living alone, you probably spent as much as you wanted on Uber Eats and didn’t think too much about what anyone thought about your impulse online shopping. But, now that you’re sharing bank statements, it’s a whole new story. Having someone looking over your shoulder as you spend can be daunting even though your life might now be a whole lot cheaper since you’re budgeting as a couple.
Rent and bills
If you’re used to living alone in a capital city for example, you’re likely spending at least $350 per week on a one-bedroom apartment – that doesn’t include bills. As a couple, it’s far cheaper to get a two-bedroom living space (around $550 for the house/apartment), and you’re now splitting the lease and all the ongoing electricity, gas and water costs.
So, for a larger living space, you’re now paying less per person. If you both stay in the one-bedroom apartment, you’re basically halving your costs. Same goes for your Netflix subscription, internet and pay TV.
Sharing the costs of groceries is a lot cheaper when you split it in two. There often a lot more food waste as a single because it’s hard to buy small portions, particularly of some fresh items (eg. Punnets of tomatoes and strawberries, entire lettuces, bulk sized slices of cheese etc.) Try bulk-buying groceries – it’s often much cheaper, too.
But there are two caveats here:
1. Men will typically eat more than women – Often when it comes to meat and protein-rich foods, which are typically more expensive. When you were single, you may have cooked up a batch of food that lasted for a few dinners or lunches during the week but your new mate may not leave the leftovers for you!
2. One of you might have more expensive taste in cheese or coffee so the other partner will end up subsidising this cost. Have a chat about your preferences and make sure the cost isn’t imbalanced.
Eating out and alcohol
Couples tend to eat at home more often than singles who will typically go out, socialise and meet new people. The same goes for alcohol – it’s more expensive to drink out at a bar than to share a bottle of wine at home.
There are also those home-made Sunday brunches (as opposed to meeting your friends for smashed avocado and poached eggs at the local cafe. No longer having the need to date can also save money coffee dates and dinners.
Sharing a hotel room or taking up package deal will mean your holidays as a couple are looking cheaper. You are likely paying less for a couple’s deal over booking the same package as a single. Flights are the same – you often get a discount if you pay for two at once.
Sharing a car will obviously split the cost of maintaining it and keeping it on the road. But, if you both keep your individual cars, you’re still paying registration and insurance and all the ongoing costs just the same – so is it worth it?
In most cases, it seems to be cheaper to live as a couple than a single, but when things go wrong, like discovering your partner has a debt around something that you’re not aware of (not to mention the cost of divorce and splitting any assets), this all goes out the window.
Keep your finances (and your relationship!) healthy by talking about your money values and deciding what you’re both willing to spend. In almost all cases, it’s cheaper to split the costs.
For more information on budgeting go to Moneysmart.